Bhubaneswar: Noted violinist from Odisha, Dr Swarna Khuntia has succumbed to COVID-19.
Khuntia was one of the few North Indian classical solo violinists from Odisha to have specialised in the ‘Gayaki Ang’ of violin.
Born in Cuttack, her father Pandit Harmohan Khuntia was a renowned tabla and Odissi pakhawaj exponent.
Swarna was initiated into North Indian classical violin when she was doing her graduation in chemistry at Stewart Science College, Cuttack. During this time, she came across an audio CD of violinist Dr N Rajam. Raga Gorakh Kalyan played by Dr Rajam had a magnetic impact on Swarna and changed her life.
She started her musical journey in 1987 after taking initial training under Guru Prafulla Ray. After graduation, she joined pursued Bachelor’s in music in the Department of Instrumental Music at Banaras Hindu University in 1990. She also got an opportunity to meet Dr Rajam there.
She completed her graduation in 1993 with first division and a Gold Medal, Master’s in music in 1995 also with a first division and distinction and then Doctor of Music in 1997 under the able guidance of Dr Rajam.
During the course of her study and training, Swarna learned all the nuances of ‘Gayaki Ang’ along with the left-hand fingering and right hand bowing techniques. She was working on the finer aspects of Ragadari and techniques.
Known for her soulful rendition of Alap, Swarna also had superb fluidity and control over the notes.
Due to her scholarly performance, Swarna received Junior Research Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture in 2000, Orissa Sangeet Natak Academy Fellowship for higher study in music in 1995 and National Cultural Scholarship for young talent in 1993 from the Ministry of Culture and HRD.
Swarna was working as a Senior Assistant Professor in violin in the Department of Instrumental Music, Faculty of Performing Arts, Banaras Hindu University since November 2006.